Foundation Board Gets New Chair


As the new chairman of the board of the United Methodist Foundation of Western Pennsylvania, Richard K. (Dick) Thomas said he is proud of the many things the Foundation does well, but he wants to make individuals and local churches more aware of the services available to them.
“What isn’t broken, we won’t fix,” Thomas said, describing some of the strong points this way:

  • We are independent and have a reputation for integrity.
  • Through Foundation accounts, the financial resources of Western PA UM churches and institutions are invested, and we have a good track record of returns of 4% over inflation for 45 years – for both large and small accounts.
  • We run programs for pastors to help them with leadership skills and more practical matters that are often not taught in a seminary.
  • We also have our own grants available for UM churches and agencies in Western PA.
“Among my hopes is that we become more visible to all United Methodists here in Western PA,” Thomas said. “If there are UM churches that don’t know much about us or what we do, then we can’t help them even when there are needs.”

The Foundation is in the midst of a strategic planning process, which Thomas predicts will result in discovery of new opportunities. “For instance, we know that other United Methodist Foundations (There are 43 around the country) do things differently in many areas. We need to share ideas and maybe even work together with them on some projects," he said. "Western PA is not so unique that we can’t learn from others.”

Before moving into the chairman’s role for 2015-2016, Thomas served on several Foundation committees. He has also been an active leader at Trinity UM Church in McMurray, serving as chair of the Finance Committee, the Administrative Council and the Endowment Committee at various times.

Thomas worked for 30 years in the chemical and oil refining industries, holding management positions in engineering, capital planning, and growth and acquisitions. He earned chemical engineering degrees from The University of Delaware and the University of Pennsylvania, as well as an Executive MBA from the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz School of Business.  In addition, Thomas taught economics for 10 years in Waynesburg University’s MBA program, and currently is part owner of 3B Holdings, LLC, a real estate investment and property rental company. He and his wife, Dr. Penny L. Thomas, have three sons and three grandchildren and enjoy many outdoor activities.

Serving with Thomas on the Foundation’s executive board for the 2015-2016 term are: President – Bishop Thomas Bickerton; 1st Vice Chair – Thomas Heisey; 2nd Vice Chair – Michele Cesare-Jury; Treasurer – Thomas Heisey; Assistant Treasurer – N. James Sekel; Assistant Treasurer – Frederick Watts; Secretary – Rev. Barry Lewis.

Saying it is an honor for him to serve as the board chair, Thomas added: “More importantly, I am fortunate and grateful to follow some very talented and dedicated individuals in the position and also to have board members who are fully engaged and want to help whenever asked.

“Combined with a strong Foundation staff, there is no reason we cannot continue to grow and meet the needs of Western Pennsylvania United Methodist churches, agencies, and individuals.”